Monday, June 12, 2017

Governor signs omnibus innocence bill to track informants, record interrogations

Governor Greg Abbott today signed HB 34, Texas' latest omnibus innocence legislation. Grits explained in this post why the eyewitness ID reforms are minimalist, at best, and avoid confronting the reasons flawed identifications still make it into court. In the latest Just Liberty podcast, Mandy Marzullo had this to say about the other key provisions from the bill:
[The] two big provisions that you want to pay attention to are the provisions that deal with recorded interrogations.  Going forward right now, law enforcement will have to record all of their custodial interrogations that deal with major felony offenses which is a huge coup.  Although a lot of law enforcement agencies say that they record their interrogations as a matter of best practice, what this means is that they have to do it.  And, they have to do it every time.  So, it’s a big deal for Texas.
The other issue is informant reform, another big piece of this legislation that requires district attorney’s offices track their use of informants. ... Informants are typically people who are in the jailhouse who report to law enforcement that a defendant confessed to a crime.  And, they testify to this confession.  So, as you can tell, just from the outset, you’re dealing with someone who does not have firsthand knowledge of an offense.  So, it is highly unreliable information to begin with.  And then, it’s incentivized testimony that usually they’re giving their testimony in exchange for some benefit.  And what the tracking does is it allows us to know how often the same person is getting favorable treatment from the prosecution.


JJ said...

Nice! Will be interesting to see any results of the informant tracking.

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? District attorneys won't track this no better than law enforcement tracked officer-involved shootings. There's no reason for them to do so, no one will be charged if they don't. Another law without teeth..